Category Archives: Game Design

Game Design: The False Dichotomy of Narrativism versus Simulationism

One of the underlying trends of modern game design (at least since I last reacquainted myself with the buzzwords) has been narrativism versus simulationism. Typically, these games have certain associations with them; narrativist games have a weak point of often falling into mechanical vacuums where characters never develop across sessions or where they fail to be distinct from each other, and simulationist games fall into a pitfall by becoming too heavily dependent on their own systems to allow flexibility and freedom, especially with regards to tabletop roleplaying. However, video games often offer a great example of a way in which all the traditional tabletop game design ideas have broken down over the years and ways to reinvigorate them.

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2014 in Review, and Plans for 2015

It’s the end of 2014, and I’ve fallen behind on the blog (again) because of taking some teacher certification tests. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to everything I planned to do this year, though there are some exciting things I did get done as well as things that will be going on.

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The Problem of Conceptual Separation

I know that I’ve been majorly off schedule recently, but it’s mostly because of having relatives for the holidays and not being able to get some good writing time, so I’m going to try to be writing ahead for a while to keep things going.

One of the greatest problems that tabletop game designers (and, less frequently, video game designers) have is with conceptual separation between game mechanics, the behaviors they are supposed to be a response/encouragement to.

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Game Design: Choice Paths Part 1: Linear, Option, Divergent, and “Dinner” Paths

Since the majority of games (or, perhaps it is better to say, pretty much every major game out there) relies almost entirely on pre-scripted advancement techniques to handle plots and narratives, I figured I’d write a little article on choice paths in games. Choice paths are something that I used a ton when I was working on Orchestra over on Story Nexus, and they’re a great way to see what you’re doing. Continue reading

Game Design: Applying Animation Principles to Game Environments

Video games seem to often suffer from a lack of awareness of other fields; it’s not so much that video game designers and developers don’t know what they’re doing but rather that they seem to not communicate with other complementary fields. One of the things I’ve noticed as a game reviewer is that many games do not fully take advantage of known animation principles to provide a greater sense of immersion and activity to their environments. Continue reading

Game Design: Creating an Investment Friendly Narrative

One of the things that really makes a game succeed or fail is the quality of its narrative. A game that tells a good story will be entertaining. This is a little difficult, but there are a few things one can do when writing a game’s story and plot that will help players get attached to the characters and events that the game is centered around.

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Game Design: Interface and Mood

One of the things that players of games notice intuitively is their user interfaces. Small things make a game’s interface fluid or clunky, and ugly or beautiful. A designer who isn’t careful can introduce unnecessary elements or hide crucial information and functionality, crippling their game while working on a part of it that is often underrated. Furthermore, interfaces set the mood of the game before any of the other art and mechanics come to the forefront.

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Game Design: Encouraging Social Play Part 1: Scales of Play

It’s generally well accepted that players who have an enjoyable social experience in game have a higher rate of coming back to a game and will generally enjoy it more than players who are alone, especially in a massively multiplayer environment. This requires designers to take a certain approach to the design of their games that is social play oriented, rather than just play oriented. Continue reading

Game Design: Play Economics

One of the important things to consider as a game designer is that players approaching your game will consider things in the game environment as being very real; sometimes holding incredible amounts of value. As a result, it is important to consider the bad economic decisions that players will make in order to prevent frustration and regrets, encouraging players to have a more positive experience with the game. Continue reading

Game Design: Open Puzzles

One of the most immersive ways to offer player experiences comes in the form of open puzzles. As a designer, one of the best things you can offer your players is an opportunity to engage in meaningful play, and open puzzles provide an interesting mix of dynamically flexible content and a capacity for hand-crafted outcomes by allowing a number of solutions to a problem based on emergent solutions rather than explicitly pre-determined outcomes. Continue reading